Garthorpe welcomes new Clerk of the Course Jim Culloty

Jim Culloty at Garthorpe

Jim Culloty is a big name in racing, of that there can be little doubt. Not many people have not only won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National but done it in the same season. And now the former leading jockey has taken up an administrative role in point-to-pointing, as Clerk of the Course at Garthorpe.

Garthorpe Racecourse is one of the oldest and most respected point-to-point venues in the country, hosting multiple race meetings each year and attracting top jockeys, trainers and horses from across the UK. With its picturesque setting, excellent facilities and top-class watering system, Garthorpe is a popular destination for competitors and spectators alike.

When I catch up with Jim Culloty, he is busy preparing Garthorpe for its first meeting of the 2023 season, the Melton Hunt Club fixture this Sunday, 5th February. "We've been at it for about two weeks," Jim tells me. "[Retired Clerk of the Course] Brian Crawford has done a wonderful job over the years here, and he has been giving me a helping hand to ease me into the job. He kindly helped with the positioning of the fences, then it was time to walk the course with [Garthorpe Chair and dual Aintree Foxhunters winner] Joey Newton and [Midlands Area Chair and an experienced Clerk of the Course under rules] Charlie Moore. We've been setting up the running rails and checking all the other fencing, and today I'm walking the course again looking for any issues."

As Clerk of the Course, Jim Culloty will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of races at Garthorpe, including the safety of horses, jockeys, and spectators. He will work closely with the other course officials to maintain the high standards of the venue.

It all feels a bit out of context, but isn't. Since Jim moved permanently to Leicestershire, I might see him two or three times a week, on the hunting field, where he is a keen supporter of the Belvoir, Cottesmore and Quorn Hunts. I would also bump into him at point-to-point fixtures, of course, but he does a good job of blending in and it is easy to forget the depth of his knowledge and experience.

Jim Culloty started his career as a National Hunt jockey with Jackie Retter in Devon, before moving on to work for Henrietta Knight. He rode 46 winners as an amateur, before turning professional and finishing his career with 442.

Most famously, he won three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups from 2002 to 2004 on Jim Lewis' Best Mate, trained by Henrietta Knight, and in 2002 doubled up to win the Grand National on Bindaree for Nigel Twiston-Davies. As if that wasn't enough, he went on to become only the fourth person to both ride and train a horse to win the Gold Cup, with Lord Windermere in 2014.

So why this role, now?

Jim said, "I saw the role advertised in the Autumn and it interested me. I rode in point-to-points and I'm a big fan. I love going pointing, watching the racing, seeing new emerging talents and meeting up with the established characters involved in the sport. This is a way for me to give a little back. Also, there is a fantastic team of officials and, perhaps more importantly, volunteers at Garthorpe who make the role much easier. I really look forward to working with them."

Charlie Moore added, "We are delighted to welcome Jim to our team. Brian Crawford is a very difficult man to follow, given the excellent job he has done at Garthorpe over many years, and we feel that Jim Culloty's experience as a jockey, coupled with his passion for point-to-point racing, makes him the ideal candidate as his successor. He will bring his experience to our race meetings and help to further cement Garthorpe's reputation as one of the leading point-to-point venues in the country."

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